According to recent statistics, approximately 80% of the population has trouble sleeping at some point in their lives. The lack of sleep is associated with deficits in attention, concentration, memory and ability to focus at work. It’s also associated with the development of psychiatric disorders like depression and anxiety, impairments in social and occupational functioning, poor quality of life and higher health care costs. Therefore, maintaining a good sleep routine is the best way to ensure you get a good night’s rest.
Here’s how to improve your sleep:
1. Relax before going to bed
According to a U.S. National Sleep Foundation poll, around 60% of us do household chores, 37% take care of children, 36% do activities with other family members, 36% are on the Internet, and 21% do work related to their jobs during the hour before bed. It is wrong, as you don’t give your body the chance to relax and prepare for sleep. So during the hour before bed read a book, take a bath, have a massage, whatever will make you feel most relaxed.
Go out and do whatever kind of exercise you like: run, bike, skate, play baseball or tennis, it doesn’t matter what. For instance, people who work physically strenuous jobs experience fewer problems with insomnia than those with office jobs. The idea is that exercise improves sleep as effectively as benzodiazepines in some studies, because it reduces the time it takes to get to sleep by 12 minutes, and it increases total sleep time by 42 minutes. Try working out for as little as 20 minutes and your body will feel stimulated.
3. Keep a worry journal
Keep a worry journal with you every time, even when you go to sleep. It’s better than giving money to a psychologist to listen to your worries and besides, when you wake and start worrying, just write down everything you’re worrying about. Then close the journal, put it on your nightstand, turn out the light, and go back to sleep.
4. Turn off your computer
It’s exciting to surf on the internet but the bad part is that it may actually tie us into too many never-ending webs. Therefore, turn off your computer before going to bed and under no circumstances you should check your e-mail. Also, don’t watch television at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Your mind will stay stimulated right after. The best way to fall asleep is to clear your mind of all thoughts.
5. Create a sleep-conductive environment
It’s a proven fact that we sleep better in the dark because the dark inhibits the brain’s biological clock. If your eyelids open as you move from one stage of sleep to another, the streetlights, a full moon or even the clock radio with lighted displays can wake you up. Also, make sure you have the right amount of blankets and soft pillows because if it isn’t comfortable, you aren’t going to sleep.
6. Have a bedtime schedule
If you are dissatisfied that your life has become a routine, don’t be! Your body likes it that way! Believe it or not, your body will thank you if you fall asleep and wake at the same time each day, even on the weekends. You just have to figure out how many hours your body needs to feel rested and schedule your sleep that way.
7. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco
You probably know that wine is a sedative, as are all alcoholic drinks, but not a very good one. Its sedating effect won’t last the whole night, because as alcohol blood levels drop, sleep becomes disturbed. Also, caffeinated drinks and food such as coffee, tea, sodas and chocolate won’t guarantee you a good night rest because they keep the mind stimulated much longer than you think. It’s the same with tobacco too.